During a meeting Monday afternoon, members of Moon Area's Education Support Professionals jokingly referred to a series of cuts and reductions in hourly positions in their department as being "Not Whale Done."
The gibe referred to a district program that has staff and students presented "Whale Done" certificates or rewards for extra effort or good behavior.
Members met to discuss rumors about subcontracting maintenance services, concern that cutting support staff to part time is a violation of the contract, and issues of students being subjected to shortened lunch time, less library availability and inadequate staffing in the health office.
"We're not going to take this lying down. The parents need to know they are not getting their bang for their buck," said Butch Santicola, Pennsylvania State Education Association spokesman after Monday's meeting. The cuts and reductions came as a surprise to members, he said.
In a letter dated Monday addressed to Superintendent Donna Milanovich and school directors and signed by 11 members of the support staff, the group asked directors "to stop the subcontracting of services" and "to stop the furlough of staff and the replacement of staff with part-time workers."
The district issued a statement Wednesday, saying, "The furloughing of support staff and the outsourcing of positions are separate matters. Staff will have a chance to bid on positions during the bid meeting.
"The outsourcing is for new/opened maintenance positions only."
In June, directors passed a $62.35 million budget that officials said reflected numerous staffing revisions throughout the district, resulting in a savings of nearly $425,000. At the time, these revisions were said to affect 53 positions, with 49 new positions being created. Furlough notices were sent as per union contract.
A statement from the district read, "this decision was based on the updated needs of the district's students, and to ensure that programs will not be eliminated."
Mr. Santicola said to his knowledge, 15 furlough notices were received, with the rest of the changes consisting of reductions in hours or days.
Last week, district administrators provided a more detailed list of proposed changes to support staff positions. According to this list, a total of 17 positions were being eliminated and 31 were being made half-time or reduced in the number of days needed. The list also showed 21 new positions being created.
Special education assistants had 13 positions reduced in hours or made half-time, one reduced in the number of days needed and four eliminated. A total of four new positions were created. The district said the cuts will not affect services for special education students required in their individualized education programs or IEPs.
In the cafeteria, nine positions had hours reduced and one was eliminated, while two positions called for increased hours. Clerical positions had four reduced in hours and one reduced in days.
There were 12 positions eliminated for assistants, with two reduced in hours and one with a change in hours. The district created 11 new assistant positions.
Special education, cafeteria and clerical positions were listed as being based on need.
Mr. Santicola said initially 53 positions were affected, but four have been called back.
Additionally, the school board's July meeting was moved to 7 p.m. July 23 in the boardroom of the high school's lower-level central administration offices.
Support staff members were scheduled to have their "bid and bump" meeting where members bid on open jobs based on seniority on July 18, but have tentatively moved it to July 25.
Sonja Reis, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org